Copyright And E-learning

With technologies and transactions going the online route, can learning be far behind? Every day we inch closer to the futuristic visions of classrooms being transformed into personal learning modules, where students can learn whenever and wherever they want. What brings this change? E-learning.

E-learning as a field has changed the face of the education industry and has opened up a world of subjects for potential students from all walks of life. Now, it is also adding value to corporate life. A study by Max Zornada conducted in 2003-2004 on corporates in Australia and the Asia Pacific region has established that there can be major cost benefits which arise from the lack of infrastructure needed, increased productivity, and quicker learning when it is done online[1]. However, it is important to copyright the content of e-learning modules as the industry grows bigger.

The e-learning industry faces a significant challenge when it comes to intellectual property. The content provided is easily available, and more economical to copy and distribute than physical learning content like books, so it runs the risk of its copyright being infringed upon.

Because of this, it is very important to ensure that copyright protection is availed of for e-learning content. Registering your copyright creates a legal presumption that you have a valid copyright. This is important when filing a suit for infringement as it places the burden on the defendant to show that your copyright is invalid. This burden acts as an incentive for many a defendant to settle the case instead of opting for litigation.

Existing copyright provisions

Copyright guidelines about e-learning are still evolving. Under the Indian Copyright Act original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works are protected[2]. E-learning content such as academic articles, question papers and movie scripts can be registered under copyright as literary work. Sound recordings, musical works and cinematography work[3] can also be registered as long as copyright in some other work is not infringed while making the sound recording or the cinematography work. Iconic characters can also be registered as artistic works.

Copyright law itself permits some infringing activities under the guise of fair use. For example:

  • a fair dealing with a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work for the purposes of private use, including research, criticism or review, research or study of the work
  • the publication in a collection, mainly composed of non-copyright matter, bona fide intended for the use of educational institutions, and so described in the title and in any advertisement issued by or on behalf of the publisher, of short passages from published literary or dramatic works, not themselves published for the use of educational institutions, in which copyright subsists
  • the reproduction of a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work by a teacher or a pupil in the course of instruction; or as part of the questions to be answered in an examination; or in answers to such questions

If you are interested in protecting your e-learning modules, copyrighting your intellectual property and safeguarding your content from being used without permission, simple fill out our contact formĀ .


[2] Section 13 of the Indian Copyright Act, 1957

[3] Section 13 of the Indian Copyright Act, 1957



« « Can you protect ideas through copyright?| Inolyst partners with IPL to create stronger IP’s for indian product ecosystem » »



Would you like to share your thoughts?

The comments are closed.